CULINARY MEDICINE: What is it and does it matter?

CULINARY MEDICINE: What is it and does it matter?

A JOURNEY ON WHAT’S GOING ON: the movement is the metric.

While doing internet research, a pop-up from Grammarly, (a free online grammar checking platform), came up: Check out the big vocabulary on you! You used more unique words than 92% of Grammarly users. Keep it up!

Thanks; that’s assuring, as content has to be unique – and attractive. So what was the research about? Culinary medicine…

Before we started to market Culinary Argan Oil the term  ‘culinary medicine’ was unbeknownst to us. Never heard of it. Nuclear medicine, yes. Lifestyle medicine, sure. We DO use the saying: ‘You are what you eat’ so lifestyle and wellbeing are familiar topics. We don’t want to go into etiology, which is the cause(s) of a disease, ‘just’ explore Culinary Medicine.

Here is what we found.


(photo credit: sheila pedraza burk, burst)

What Is Culinary Medicine and What Does It Do?

That’s the title of an article by Dr. John La Puma MD, FACP published in February 2016 in Population Health Management. Dr. La Puma defines culinary medicine as the relationship between food, eating, and cooking to personal health and wellness.

His article  ( ) explains Culinary Medicine is a new evidence-based field in medicine, blending food and cooking with the science of medicine. Dr. La Puma is a bestselling author and leading, expert. In a 2008 published book, he co-wrote with Rebecca Powell Marx: Chef/MD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine, the main topics are Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, Getting Really Healthy.

Lots of tips, and a statement, new to me: “Before age 50, genes determine much of an individual’s health. After that, it depends on the individual choices.”

More specific, Dr. La Puma ‘s definition: ‘Culinary medicine is aimed at helping people reach good personal medical decisions about accessing and eating high-quality meals that help prevent and treat disease and restore well-being’. “A practical discipline, culinary medicine is unconcerned with the hypothetical case, and instead concerned with the patient in immediate need, who asks, “What do I eat for my condition?”

“As food is condition-specific, the same diet does not work for everyone. Different clinical conditions require different meals, foods, and beverages.”

The New York Times published, May 2018: “Here we were, 80 eager physicians from across North America in a large teaching kitchen in northern California”.

lifestyle medicine

Read about surgeons with knife skills:

On a personal (editors) note: in my life, I’ve seen doctors in Europe, Caribbean, South America, who, unlike my Chinese general practitioner in NYC never asked: what do you eat?

Is that a question you were asked by your physician?

Culinary Medicine triggers more interest – but is not trending on Google, the search engine that registers every query.

Inspired by organic, natural food, clean label, sourcing, and processing awareness:

Food, Health, and Wellbeing are related and considered as Lifestyle. And trending in symposia, programs, and platforms such as .

culinary medicineProf. dr. Mourad Errasfa promotes ‘Argan, the green medicine’ on the website and healthcare costs is a very relevant aspect of our life, especially if you’re living in the USA.

Gretha is a group of international researchers, based in Rabat, Morocco, with a focus on the benefits of Argan oil for humans in medical therapies and initiates clinical trials.

Worldwide, there are many ‘food as medicine’ projects, such as The Ceres Community Project.

The New York Times reports Cod and ‘Immune Broth’: California Tests Food as Medicine.

A state-funded clinical trial will test whether nutritious daily meals for chronically ill people can improve health and reduce medical costs. Read about meals prepared for cancer patients:

This blog is about Culinary Medicine, not internet searches and trends, but this is what google trends lists when used ‘search term’ for the past 90 days, in global perspective:


What does this tell us? Not much, as it seems hardly a topic, other than, see bottom left of the graph, geographically, for Californians and, a far second, the UK.

So Culinary Medicine is not an easily identifiable ‘movement’, from a ‘big data’ point of view.

Just to appease your curiosity, a comparison with the search term Health:

Culinary Medicine

Google Trends lets you explore what the world is searching, and gives options in time, topics vs search terms, regions, etc. And of course, you are just as surprised as we are to learn the world hottest topic is not health, but porn. It dwarfs food, medicine, health.

Medical Schools created institutes where doctors learn about food and how to use food in their professional life. There are plenty of academic institutes who followed the 2003 SUNY initiative (SUNY is NY State University). Prevention of diseases through food? Check. Treatments and healing? Check. Providing physicians and students a learning curve through real-life cooking? Check.

Golden center of Culinary MedicineThe Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine (GCCM) at Tulane University, New Orleans, created and has a tagline “Where Health meets food”.  GCCM lists on their website they are the first dedicated teaching kitchen to be implemented at a medical school. Goldring created courseware based on ‘Health meets Food’ and partnered with 50+medical schools, residencies, and nursing schools to implement the courseware in their curriculum. Here is video:

Culinary MedicineThrough their .com institute GCCM created a 60 point credit certification program: Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist (CCMS). By completing the program, clinicians will enhance their confidence and quality of care by learning how to:

Integrate nutritional counseling to supplement pharmacological treatment; Educate patients about weight loss and weight management; Develop practical examination-room dialogues that inspire behavioral change, and, Implement new strategies in even the busiest primary care offices. More info:

Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan, states: The growing field of culinary medicine explores the links between food and health, applying the foundations of nutritional science side-by-side with traditional medical interventions in clinical care.

 Lifestyle Medicine

Of course, medical recommendations of any kind are only effective when they are followed; sticking to a medically-recommended dietary plan involves far more than filling a pharmaceutical prescription. Selecting, preparing and enjoying food is central to the quality of life of individuals and families, encompassing not only personal taste preferences but skills and interests, social habits, cultural rituals, household budgets, and time constraints.  

Culinary medicine fills an important gap in the current care model, moving beyond simply recommending dietary changes to help people successfully—and even enjoyably —incorporate them into daily life. Their view:

Lifestyle Medicine

There is a Harvard Medical School related institute we highlight here; they have an impressive variety of programs, symposia, and training on Lifestyle and Culinary Medicine topics. One of their signature events is an annual, 2 days Lifestyle Medicine course: State-of-the-Art Approaches to Help Patients Initiate and Sustain Health-Promoting Behaviors. Tools for Promoting Healthy Change.

This course always sells out.

Course director Dr. Edward M. Phillips, MD, and assistant director Dr. Rani Polak, MD, MBA are both Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Phillips is also Chief of the Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Service at the VA Boston Healthcare System and  Director of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine (ILM) at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. He is co-founder and co-director of the Lifestyle Medicine Education Collaborative (LMEd), dedicated to integrating Lifestyle Medicine into medical school curricula. Dr. Rani Polak is the Founding Director of the Culinary Healthcare Education Fundamentals (CHEF) Coaching program at the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. His current work focuses on culinary coaching, an innovative telemedicine approach which utilizes evidence-based medicine to help individuals and professionals to efficiently and cost-effectively improve nutrition through home cooking.

Lifestyle Medicine Lifestyle Medicine

Watch their video (one hour) on YouTube:

The CHEF coaching program embodies, in our opinion the quintessential of Culinary Medicine: Vision In Action. Like so many other deliverables of Culinary Medicine programs, it teaches and advocates, combining the ‘hard’ -ratio, facts- with the soft -a meal, sensory experience. Spread the word with passion: advocacy on it’s finest. And tasty!

Although there are distinct differences between these academic Culinary Medicine Schools, they all share an outward philosophy: teach, cook, advocate and engage not only with students, doctors and institutes and platforms but also with professionals such as nutritionists, as well as chefs, foodies, influencers en journalists.

Within 10 years or so, Culinary Medicine will be as recognizable as Lifestyle Medicine now is.

In addition to the institutes and trailblazers, solo practitioners are advocating Culinary Medicine as well. Bettina Zumdick, founder of the Center for Healing, Awareness, and Transformation, LEE, MA, has a holistic view combining modern knowledge of the West with ancient wisdom from the East. As a nutritionist, teacher and counselor she organizes cooking classes and posts recipes

In NYC Dr. Dara Huang MD, founder of  is a nephrologist and internist who believes a healthy life begins with a healthy kitchen. Dr. Huang, a trained professional sushi chef, empowers her patients to take ownership of their bodies; the right ingredients as key.  Having expert knowledge in understanding the kidney’s vital role in maintaining the body’s delicate balance and her chef’s training led her to become a leading physician in the fields of Culinary and Bariatric Medicine. Here is one of her powerpoint presentations busting food myths from the point of view of the kidney:

 Lifestyle Medicine

Back to a more aggregated level, The American College for Preventive Medicine (ACPM) ( )  also sets Culinary Medicine front and center and they have great recipes and videos as well, to help you get started on your journey to better health.

Lifestyle Medicine

Following the principles of culinary medicine, here are their recipes ; delicious and easy to make. Even better when you use Culinary Argan oil, as an alternative to olive oil :). The ACPM also has instructional cooking videos with tips to help you make cooking easy and fun, as well as a series of interviews with culinary medicine and lifestyle medicine experts. Watch them all to learn more about how culinary medicine can help you and others be healthy.

There are quite a few initiatives, programs, and organizations on the same crossroads ‘culinary’ and ‘health/medicine’. Some are advocacy oriented, others hide a more or less ‘pushy’ commercial plan selling ingredients, supplements, etc.  All are informative or educational (if there is a difference in these ‘container’ words). Just let us know if you want us to blog about them:

Let’s just introduce one we like: True Health Initiative, based in the USA, with 500 experts in 40 countries.   Their tagline: Changing Policy | Changing Minds | Improving Lives.

“We are a global coalition of world renown experts, fighting fake facts and combating false doubts to create a world free of preventable diseases, using the time-honored, evidence-based, fundamentals of lifestyle and medicine.”

Lifestyle MedicineThe initiative is founded by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (

Finally, You remember what was told in your youth? “An apple a day keeps the doctor away? A few years ago Medical News Today published research from the University of Michigan, indicating we have to rephrase that into: ‘ In the age of evidence-based assertions, however, there may be merit to saying, ‘An apple a day keeps the pharmacist away.’

Lifestyle Medicine Lifestyle Medicine

Spread the love